Deebo Samuel rocket-like start to 2021 isn’t sustainable but is awesome

Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel is back again atop the NFL leaders in receiving a quarter of the way through 2021, which is outstanding.

After two weeks of regular-season football, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel found himself at the very pinnacle of NFL pass-catchers with 282 receiving yards after two games.

While Samuel lost the claim after his Week 3 performance, the third-year pro now finds himself back on top of all receivers a quarter of the way through the regular-season calendar year. Through four games, Samuel is back atop the league leaders with 490 receiving yards and also leads all pass-catchers with an average of 122.5 yards receiving per game.

Extrapolated over a 17-game season, that would equate to 2,082 yards. And for those who want to get technical with the record books, a 16-game season would have generated 1,960 yards.

Not bad. Especially considering the 2-2 Niners haven’t had much to consistently cheer about with regards to their offense, aside from the inconsistency.

Deebo Samuel 2021 Games Table
2021-09-121SFO@DETW 41-33*12918921.00175.0%15.75
2021-09-192SFO@PHIW 17-11*869315.50075.0%11.63
2021-09-263SFOGNBL 28-30*1055210.40050.0%5.20
2021-10-034SFOSEAL 21-28*12815619.50266.7%13.00

Provided by
Generated 10/5/2021.

Is it sustainable for Samuel to play at such a high rate? Probably not. But given some of the challenges San Francisco has had in identifying wide receivers and continuing to feature them over the long run, Samuel’s success this year has been awfully exemplary.

Deebo Samuel is bucking 49ers trend of previous wide receivers

It’s certainly too early to pass judgment on Samuel’s teammate, fellow wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who is off to something of a slowish start after impressing for much of 2020 and amid a multi-injury year for Samuel.

Previously, however, the 49ers have had difficulty finding and continuously featuring quality wide receivers. Easily, the biggest example of late is the Niners’ 2018 second-round NFL Draft pick, Dante Pettis, who is now on the New York Giants practice squad.

In fact, when it comes to finding the last 1,000-yard San Francisco wide receiver, you’d have to go back to 2014 with now-retired superstar wideout, Anquan Boldin, who had 1,062 receiving yards that year and over 1,100 the year before.

Different head coach, different regime and a different time.

The last time the 49ers had a wide receiver go over the 1,400-yard threshold, of course, was back in 2001 with Hall of Famer Terrell Owens.

It’s a bit of a long shot. But if Samuel stays healthy, he’s already over a third of the way there.

Deebo Samuel is being productive with both 49ers quarterbacks

The challenges the Niners are currently facing under center, namely between Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance, could potentially hinder Samuel’s red-hot start to the season.

If there’s good news, though, Samuel has been productive with both quarterbacks this season, putting up 189 receiving yards in Week 1 with Garoppolo under center, then being productive enough in Weeks 2 and 3 with Jimmy G, before having a two-touchdown game with Lance taking over in the second half of Week 4, including one of those scores being on a 79-yard catch-and-run play:

Garoppolo is currently dealing with a calf injury, and it’s unclear whether or not he’ll start in Week 5 when the Niners travel to take on the undefeated Arizona Cardinals, whose defense is allowing just 5.8 yards per pass play, good for ninth best in the NFL through four weeks.

Read More: Deebo Samuel pays tribute to Friday’s Tommy Lister

Even if Lance gets his first pro start, Samuel figures to be the prime go-to target anyway in a game where San Francisco will be forced to keep pace with the league’s No. 1-ranked scoring offense.

A good day for Samuel is certainly on the table even though the challenges for the 49ers defense will be there, too.

And even if Samuel’s current pace isn’t totally sustainable, it’s been one of the highlight points to watch in an otherwise inconsistent and frustrating season.

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